Senate Confirms Highest Ranking Muslim in U.S. Government

Despite two years of delays, the State Department’s Dilawar Syed has now been confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), making Syed the highest ranking Muslim in the U.S. government. 

Dilawar Syed
Dilawar Syed (Photo from

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 200 elected officials, businesses, faith groups and civil rights organizations supported Syed’s nomination—among them the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and the United Methodist Church. But despite this broad support, the Senate Small Business Committee repeatedly failed to nominate the Pakistani-born businessman in a move decried by many as bigoted and Islamophobic. 

Rabbi Jack Moline, then-president of Interfaith Alliance, argued that the continuous stalling was an “excuse for a lot of issues that have nothing to do with suitability for the position.”

“We are hopeful that Mr. Syed’s confirmation will … serve as inspiration for the next generation of American Muslim leaders.”

Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship called the handling of Mr. Syed’s nomination process “bigotry, plain and simple.” “Targeting nominees like Mr. Syed for their faith, ethnicity, or place of birth, furthers the perpetual foreigner stereotype to which AAPIs [Asian American Pacific Islanders] are constantly subjected,” the Committee wrote. “We stand firmly against the use of these typecasting misconceptions. These tactics have been rejected by leading civil rights and faith-based organizations and have no place in our government or our nation. There is no question that Mr. Syed is uniquely well suited and highly qualified for this role, and small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country deserve this standard of leadership at SBA.”

In congratulating Syed on his nomination, the Muslim Public Affairs Council wrote: “We are hopeful that Mr. Syed’s confirmation will help the SBA meet the needs of small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country and serve as inspiration for the next generation of American Muslim leaders.”

STAND congratulates Dilawar Syed and commends those faith leaders and lawmakers—Jewish and Muslim, Republican and Democrat—who persisted in the face of bigotry and helped America secure the right man for the job.